Upcoming Australian Association In Research in Education Conference Canberra 2017
There would be few, if any areas of public policy and practice more heavily politicised within the Australian landscape than Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education. While on one hand, education has been posed as the primary vehicle for socio-economic and consequent political achievement of Australia's indigenous peoples, there is little or no evidence that the current educational programs have improved student outcomes.
The failure of school systems across Australia to make sustainable inroads into closing the deep achievement gap between Indigenous students and non-Indigenous students is seen to be symptomatic of the depth and complexity of issues seen to affect the development and implementation of appropriate policies and schooling practices, and address the level of student and community resistance to them. It is the authors contention that the long-term resolution of these students’ educational underachievement can only occur when educators and Indigenous communities have an informed understanding of how these issues affect students’ capacity and willingness to engage in their schooling.
This symposium provides a preliminary report on a collaborative project investigating the efficacy of often heard assertions about ‘What [will/should] work’ to improve the educational experiences and outcomes of Indigenous school children. The symposium will explore a diverse range of research assessed as part of a wide-ranging Systematic Review undertaken by a consortium of educators deeply invested in seeking long-term solutions to the array of issues effecting the underachievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
A brief initial presentation will outline the underpinning Cochrane Review guidelines used to locate, synthesize and analyse recently published (2006 – 2017), peer reviewed and/or government initiated research of school programs in sites with significant Indigenous enrolments. The following presentations will highlight the key findings against the focus inquiry of each review topic. The findings will individually and collectively deepen our understanding of those areas seen to effect the development and delivery of relevant, responsive and quality education for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
These presentations focus on exploring the deep and enduring questions related to the failures of education to address the needs of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students or how to construct models of educational improvement for these students.
These reviews, which are part of a wider review of Aboriginal education, are a key element in the Aboriginal Voices: Transforming Aboriginal education project that seeks to reconceptualise foundational schooling structures, policies and practices underpinning the education of Aboriginal students.
De. Kevin Lowe
Guiding methodology underpinning the Aboriginal Voices Systematic Review.
Establishing a robust model that underpins the systematic inquiry within the Aboriginal Voices project
This brief presentation will outline the key aspects of this systematic review highlighting the exhaustive processes that underpinned the search criteria of the literature to a research problematic. As the term suggests, its legitimacy as a research tool is based on the thoroughness of the systematic review of the research literature. The project draws on the adoption of a modified Cochrane Review methodology review and protocols. This approach facilitates the analysis of both quantitative and qualitative research data into a common framework of recent (2006 – 2017) peer reviewed and government research literature that has evaluated school based education programs for Indigenous students. The presentation will outline the overarching research thesis underpinning the suite of reviews, the parameters of the research, the criteria used to select research data, its subsequent evaluation and the structures used to report the findings.
Dr. Jodie Miller
What are the key elements of effective numeracy development required to improved Aboriginal student achievement?
Providing opportunities for positive mathematical outcomes for Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students continues to be a focus of government policy and school reforms. While much research has been conducted in Australia over the past 10 years, the results of these studies do not appear to translate to ‘successful’ outcomes on national numeracy testing scores, such as NAPLAN. This systematic review focuses on identifying key elements of effective numeracy/mathematics teaching and learning practices, stemming from Australian research, that demonstrate improved learning outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island students. From the databases Informit, EBSCo, ProQuest, SCOPUS, Web of Science, and MathEduc articles were included in the review, based on specific criteria. The studies were categorised with respect to the adopted theoretical frameworks, research designs and methods applied as well as the main findings of each study. Commonalities and differences were identified to determine strategies that supported students’ academic achievement in mathematics.
Dr. Neil Harrison
How does the structure of curriculum govern learning for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?
Representing a predominantly white curriculum in Australian classrooms has considerable implications for how Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students learn, both pedagogically and politically. This chapter in the Systematic review of literature on Indigenous education investigates how different epistemologies have been overlooked in recent years in terms of explaining differential outcomes in Australian schools. In a country where history has significant impacts on how students engage with a predominantly white curriculum, we argue that teachers need to do more than be explicit about expectations. Careful planning and dedicated teaching are not enough to produce successful cross-cultural learning. Our investigations suggest that teachers need to be far more flexible and adaptable in how they approach curriculum planning and delivery, and what they expect from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
Accoc. Prof. Karen Trimmer
What role does school and/or community leadership have on effecting a sustained change in Aboriginal student learning and social outcomes?
School leadership is paramount in fostering student engagement and improving educational outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. Since the 1960’s there has been a trend toward school-based decision-making and management as an administrative strategy in Australian schools. Governance in education has moved towards decentralization and deregulation to allow schools to respond flexibly to local or regional needs and circumstances. The educational literature reflects the importance of governance models that recognise that policy cannot be applied universally to all schools and circumstances, and leadership approaches that incorporate increased participation of community in governance and decision-making. It is long established that having a shared vision and goals for a school has the potential to unite school and its community, and studies have shown that involvement of community is associated with higher achieving schools and positive long- term impacts on child development and educational achievement. This review will investigate Australian research over the past decade on how school and community leadership can contribute to effecting sustainable change in Aboriginal student learning and social outcomes.
Dr. Cathie Burgess
What evidence is there of pedagogical practices that support, engage and improve the educational outcomes of Aboriginal students?
Much of what has been written about quality teaching and effective pedagogical practices has been in the context of improving the educational outcomes of all students, with a number of case studies claiming to improve results for disadvantaged and/or Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. But how successful are these programs and can a definitive link between effective pedagogical practices and improved student outcomes be made? Often, what is claimed as ‘what works’ or ‘best practice’ is largely contextual, small scale and based on limited empirical evidence. This systematic review therefore seeks to assess studies that have made claims about pedagogical practices that have supported, engaged and/or improved Aboriginal and Torres strait Islander student’s educational outcomes in the last 10 years.
Dr. Philip Roberts
How does rurality impact on the schooling success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?
Consistently both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and rural students achieve educational outcomes across the board well below the national average. There is, however, little work that systematically explores the intersection of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander education and rurality in Australia. Consequently, this paper outlines the results from a systematic review of the Australian literature (2000-2016) exploring the question of ‘how does rurality impact on the schooling success of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?’ in examining this question the paper looks at the social construction of rurality from the perspective of rural social space which incorporates the demographic, geographic and economic dimensions. In a departure from previous work this analysis engages with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander culture and education and rurality as the primary organising principles, rather than defer to an implicit metropolitan, and European, norm.
Dr. John Guenther
What factors contribute to educational outcomes for Indigenous students from remote communities?
The quest for a magic bullet to ‘fix’ the problems of remote education—attendance, retention, academic achievement and pathways beyond school—has long been sought. Yet it remains elusive. In part, this is due to the frequent attempts to find common sense and simplistic approaches that fail to take account of the context of schooling in remote communities. Often the imperatives for an evidence base are subsumed by politically expedient approaches or on ‘what works’ elsewhere. The systematic review of evidence on factors that contribute to better outcomes for remote Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students will focus on empirical and peer-reviewed evidence that demonstrates what has (and has not) been shown to produce better educational outcomes for these students.
Dr. Gregory Vass
Teacher professional learning
What evidence is there for the establishment of professional learning models that effect a change in teacher's understanding, beliefs and attitudes towards teaching Aboriginal students?
The import of ongoing professional learning in support of quality teaching is well established, and moreover, demonstrating active engagement with a range of up-skilling experiences is now a built-in requirement of maintaining teacher accreditation. Indeed, within an education policy climate that closely monitors the achievements of Indigenous learners, the evaluation and efficacy of educators to constructively address the experiences of these students is under increasing scrutiny, and hence, the significance of professional learning is further heightened. But, what sort of professional learning is well suited and effective in contributing to this undertaking? This review will focus on investigating the veracity of the evidence base that underpins a range of professional learning models that aim, and claim, to effect a positive change in teacher's understanding, beliefs and attitudes towards the teaching of Indigenous students in Australia.
Dr. Jacinta Maxwell,
Dr. Nikki Moodie &
Dr. Sophie Rudolph
Racism in education
How is racism understood to impact schooling experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students?
We present preliminary results of a systematic review of research on racism and the schooling experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students. The review focuses on the decade of research published from 2006 to 2016. Throughout this period, significant methodological innovations in race-related research together with a consistent critique of state and Commonwealth policy settings have combined to provide critical and practical insight into the experiences of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children and young people in compulsory education settings. Our review attends to diverse manifestations of racism, from institutional and systemic discrimination to everyday micro-aggressions, and varying levels of analysis, from individual experiences to national policy responses. This work adopts a critical perspective on disciplinary boundaries and the outcomes discourse within the broad field of education research. Additionally, we discuss the challenges inherent in inclusion/exclusion criteria related to racism in a field such as education in which racism and discrimination are frequently misrepresented, for example, as disciplinary and behaviour management issues, or as regional and remote education challenges (as per Tuck’s move to innocence; Calderon’s settler grammars). The review is however, defined by attention to practice and research which moves beyond critique to clearly articulate the implications of findings for teachers, education workers and communities.
Dr. Kevin lowe
Aboriginal community engagement with schools
What is the place and role of Aboriginal parents and community in supporting Aboriginal student engagement and academic achievement?
School systems have long understood that there is a significant level of social, cultural and epistemic disaffection between the teachers and schools, and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander families and communities. The tenuousness of these relationships is both symptomatic and causal of the complex array of issues that underpin these historic tenuous relationships.
This review will focus on recent Australian research to investigate programs that have focused on school and community collaboration, systemic partnership agreements with Aboriginal communities and parent and teacher learning relationships. It will investigate the efficacy of these programs, and in particular look to identify the impact on community and student engagement, student academic progress and teacher professional learning.